AGGRESSION ON AFGHANISTAN 431 support to Kuhandil Khan in case of Persian aggression. Even in the matter of presents, which are esteemed by- oriental potentates not merely for their value but as adding to the dignity of the recipient in the eyes of his Court, the Mission was furnished scantily and compared most un- favourably with that of Elphinstone, which had bestowed splendid gifts on Shah Shuja. Consequently, through no fault of his own, Burnes failed. Kaye justly denounces the dishonest mutilation of despatches by which Burnes is made to appear responsible for the failure of the mission. In a recent novel, too, written to bring out the great achievement of Eldred Pottinger, Burnes is most unfairly made to serve as a dark background to the hero. As Kaye puts it, " Had Burnes been left to obey the dictates of his own reason and to use the light of his own experience, he would have conciliated both the Candahar Sirdars and the Caubul Ameer, and raised up an effective bulwark in Afghanistan against Persian invasion and Russian intrigue."1 It remains to add that Sir John McNeilTs views on the question were practically identical. The Promises of Vitkavich.—Dost Mohamed, realizing that the British Government was unwilling to make reasonable proposals to him, now turned to Vitkavich, who promised Russian support and agreed, among other things, that Russian assistance should be given to the Shah in his campaign against Herat. His mission, however, like that of Burnes, was a failure, and in the end he was disowned by the Russian Government and disappeared from the scene.2 Not content to rely on vague Russian .support, Dost Mohamed ultimately strengthened his hands by making a treaty with Mohamed Shah against Kamran Mirza ;8 thus through British ineptitude he was forced into taking a step most dis- advantageous to British policy. The Second Siege of Herat, 1837-1838.—In 1836 the Shah wasted the whole season in ineffectual operations 1 Op. «V. i. 311. 2 He committed suicide. For the facts about Vitkavich vide England and Russia in the East, p. 152. 8 In Travels and Journals preserved in the Bombay Secretariat, there is a delightful account of the Afghan embassy to Mohamed Shah, written by the ambassador, who was of Persian origin.